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You call it Christmas, but that’s not the only name for the Winter Holiday. Some type of festival of lights is common throughout the world at this time of year, as it has been for thousands of years. Winter Solstice is the beginning of winter, but also interestingly associated with rebirth.

The exact time of the solstice changes, but in the Northern Hemisphere it’s normally on 12/21 or 12/22.

Beginning with the Egyptians, this was the time when the Nile traditionally flooded, which in turn fertilized the land. In other regions, like the British Isles, various sacred sites including Stonehenge were erected specifically to mark the Solstice and provide a large, visual calendar to the people of when to plant, sew, preserve, etc. Because the Northern regions often endured famine during the winter, many celebrations center around offerings (like putting fruits in evergreens for tree spirits) in the hope that nature would be kind.

Besides offering and lights many festivals honored the Ancestors too, feeling that somehow their spirits could more easily cross the divide when the Wheel of the Year was making a major turn. One example is the Celebration of Amaterasu in Japan, where the dead were honored all night long until the sun began to rise again.

Various Deities get their due on Winter Solstice too. Ahura Mazda, the lord of Wisdom, and Mithra, the Sun God, both are commemorated in Persia on the festival of Deygan. This day marks lights victory over darkness (the longest night of the year). Meanwhile in Mali, the sky god Amma?s story is remembered at the solstice rituals, and the Incan Sun god Inti receives respect in Peru.

No matter where you live, it’s important to remember this diversity at this time of year.

Think globally!

There are many underlying themes (as already noted) to this holiday that anyone, anywhere can enjoy. Be it getting together with family, gathering with friends, sharing a gift with loved ones, going to church or taking in nature, it’s all part of the Season, no matter the name by which you call it.


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